Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Our Beloved Priests Part II

As I mentioned in this post, we have been blessed with a very vibrant and holy priest in our parish. This past weekend we went to a different parish for a First Holy Communion celebration and left the church feeling very sad. There were moments during the mass that I began to wonder if I was truly in a Catholic church. While I can't say that there were any definite liturgical abuses, it was all just a bit too much of the modern American church for our liking.

While thinking about all that went on, I remembered an email that a friend sent to me. The email stated that the Congregation for the Clergy has declared May 30th, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to be the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. The email continues, "it has often been said that we get the priests we deserve, so it is in our own self-interest to deserve better." I know that this post is a month ahead of time, and I will try my best to remind everyone of this day of prayer as the 30th of May draws closer, but I thought I would include this now because there was also a link to a prayer that can be said by the layity for priests. If you scroll down the page you will see the section that has this prayer. Why not get a jump on the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests by praying this prayer for the next 30 days? As we all know, our priests can definitely use all of the prayers they can get.

God Bless!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Expelled, Part II

Okay, so I was in a hurry yesterday and didn't have much time to put my post together, so I thought a quick thing would be to tell you what I thought about the movie "Expelled". As is usual for me, I typed before I thought. I am not one for controversy, but sometimes I put myself in the middle of it by not thinking things through. Oh well. I received a very polite comment from someone yesterday, obviously on the other side of this debate. He said, "Please get the facts about this movie and the lies behind it at " I would post his original comment, but it links to his blog which has profanity on it that I will not link to. I did take a few moments to check out this other link. It is chock full of information that sounds very convincing. Like everything you read, you must decide whether or not to believe it. People on both sides of any argument are quite capable of spinning the information to suit their own agenda.

As my husband asked this morning, "What does this have to do with the subject of your blog?" Well, to me, this looks like a great topic for a high school unit study! Think about all of the great learning that could take place here: researching Evolution, Intelligent Design and Creationism and then writing or perhaps giving a speech about the differences, pros and cons. Maybe a motivated student might even create a website about it?? Maybe it could even be a group effort. Anyone interested?

As for me, I am quite okay with the fact that I was created by an all-knowing, all-loving God who loves me so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for me.

God Bless!

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed"

I just have time for a brief post today. This past weekend my husband and I got the opportunity to go out on a date. We went with two other couples to see "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" by and with Ben Stein. What a very thought provoking, sad and good movie all at the same time. It is a documentary about how the scientific world will not allow anyone to discuss Intelligent Design (an alternative theory about life to evolution). Ben Stein brings up very good questions and provides comments from both sides of the issue. There are times where we actually laughed out loud because the arguments from the evolution scientists were so unbelievable, yet the people were very serious. Sad to say, there are many people in the world who have been convinced that this stuff is the truth. Also sad that the scientific community will not allow open debate on this issue. This is the kind of movie you want to get copies of and give to everyone you know. I would definitely recommend this movie!

God Bless!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Apricot Gelatin Mold

This is a GREAT recipe for parties and pot-lucks. I usually end up doubling it because it always gets eaten up.

1 - 3 oz. pkg. apricot jello
1/3 C sugar
1 - 20 oz. can crushed pineapple - not drained
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese - room temperature
1 Jr. size jar apricot with tapioca baby food
1 - 16 oz. cool whip

Heat apricot jello, sugar and crushed pineapple in a pot over medium heat. Stir until sugar and jello disolve. Set aside and cool completely.

Cream the cream cheese and baby food together. When jello mixture is cool, mix with cream cheese mixture with a spoon. When blended, fold in cool whip. Place in refrigerator until set.

Have a peaceful and restful Sunday. God Bless!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Star of Bethlehem

We watched a very interesting documentary last night called "The Star of Bethlehem". It is about a man who was moved to do some very detailed research into the "myth" of the star of Bethlehem. He wanted to know whether it was something that was made up or something that actually existed. Using a very complex computer program, he was able to simulate what the stars and planets looked like around the time of the birth of Christ. He also explored the sky around the time of Christ's death. It was all very interesting and quite compelling. He spent a lot of time looking through the Bible for scripture verses having to do with the sun, moon and stars and then used them as clues to figure out what the star of Bethlehem really was.

What really moved me about this whole topic was when the narrator asked us to stop and think for a moment about what kind of God we really have. To think that when God created the sun, moon and stars, He created them knowing that at just the right time they would all line up in just the right way to tell of the birth and death of His Son. What an awesome thing that is. Why is it we worry so much about day to day things, or even serious things for that matter, when we have a God that had the foresight to create such a vast universe that would all play out according to His plans. When we think about how much "thought" and care He put into creating the stars, shouldn't we be willing to let God be in charge of our lives? It's easy to feel small and insignificant when you compare yourself to the huge universe, but how comforting it is to realize that Jesus died just for each one of us, a tiny speck in the whole of creation.

If you are interested in this topic, you can check out his website for more information and you can order the DVD through here, too. I would highly recommend this very thought provoking video.

God Bless!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Art and Creativity

I thought it was about time again to post something about a homeschooling topic so I decided to tell you about an art program that I purchased about seven or so years ago. I don't even remember where I got it from, and to be quite honest, we did about four lessons and then it sat on my shelf until this year when I was looking for something different to do to fill one of our time slots. The program is called "I Can Do All Things - A Beginning Book of Drawing and Painting". It is published by How Great Thou ART Publications. I have to say that since we have been working through it, everyone's basic drawing skills have improved quite a bit. There is a section on beginning drawing, colored pencils, colored markers and beginning painting. It is very easy to follow along, which was good for us because I am not very talented in the art department.

The assignment for today was to come up with your own cereal and design your own box front. I found that what some of my children came up with reflected what goes on in our house. My one daughter decided to make her cereal red coated chocolate balls. At first she was going to call them "Red 40 O's" (Really, I don't make that big of a deal about red 40 in this house!) but then decided to call them "Lovey Dovey Cereal" because, as Willy Wonka says, "Chocolate contains a property that triggers endorphins. It gives one the feeling that they are in love." My son came up with his cereal called "Wheat Free with Raisins". Wheat free what, I am not quite sure, but at least it has raisins!! (Now I have been making a big deal about being wheat free lately!) Another daughter called her cereal "Tiny Toes" and, you guessed it, the cereal is in the shape of tiny toes. There is even a picture of a bunch of toes being poured into a cereal bowl on her box front. I have no idea where that one came from. They all know I don't like feet very much so she probably did it just to make me squirm. I told them next week they have to do a TV commercial for their cereal. I can't wait to see what they come up with for that.

All of this just made me realize that homeschooling truly is a powerful thing. Whether we know it or not, in subtle ways or in forceful ways, we are imparting the things we believe on our children and then it comes out when we least expect it, and sometimes in very creative ways. I'm glad I got to witness all of this first hand and not as a bystander when they brought home their pictures from school. I know that it is tough sometimes, but it is fun times like this when I am glad that I home school!

God Bless!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our Beloved Priests

The Pope ended up on my desk again this morning. This time he had something to say about priests:

"The priest must be a believer, one who converses with God. If this is not the case, then all his activities are futile. The most important thing a priest can do for people is first of all being what he is: a believer....When people sense that one is there who believes, who lives with God and from God, hope becomes a reality for them as well." ("Benedictus" p. 130)

This entry made me think about our current parish priest, or by his official title, our parochial administrator. What a blessing we have in our priest. He is young, energetic and he speaks the truth with clarity, humility and love. We all look forward to going to "Fr. A's house" as my youngest son calls it. Every homily is like a mini-retreat. How blessed we are to have priests like him. It underscores how important it is for the priest to have a prayer life so that they can speak the truth with love, and how important it is for us to pray for them so that they can keep it going.

I also got to thinking about how lucky my children are to be exposed to such a fun-loving, yet holy man. When I was growing up I was lucky I knew what our priest's name was, let alone talk to him after mass. I can never recall having even a casual conversational relationship with a priest while I was growing up. Since I went to a public school, I don't think I ever saw too many nuns, either. When it came time to think about adulthood, discerning my vocation were words I never knew. How about, "Where will I find a husband? Gee, college sounds like a good place to try!"

I feel very blessed that we have come far enough in our faith to realize the importance of our priests. How exciting it is to see my kids get excited that Fr. A is coming over for dinner, or to look forward to seeing other priests and sisters that they know. What an encouragement it is to hear them and other youth praying to discern their futures and not just leaving it all up to "chance", but up to God. I have to believe that this intimate exposure and friendship with priests and sisters will form their future in a way that I never knew. Let us pray that God will continue to send us many holy priests and religious so that our children can continue to grow up under their positive influence.

God Bless!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Feet and TV revisited

I would like to take this opportunity to follow up on two comments I received about previous posts. The first comment was on my Happy Feet post. It reads: "Since when have you ever said that? Usually it's 'PUT YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS BACK ON!!!! IT's NOT SUMMER!'" This is courtesy of my eldest daughter. I will admit that she does have a point. Usually I am a very practical mother and these words have been known to come out of my mouth on many occasions. Seeing as how it is still April and the ground has not really had a chance to warm up, we probably shouldn't be running around without our shoes on. HOWEVER, we had a real winter around here this year. No teaser of warm weather in February or March, no weeks on end without snow. This winter was cold and snowy and long. I believe that I must have just gotten so carried away with the bright sunshine, the warm air and the green grass that I lost my usual motherly concern. I actually ran outside and told them to take their shoes off! So, I felt I should explain my moment of fervor lest I loose credibility!

The next comment came from a good friend of mine on my To TV or Not To TV post. She said that she had read the book "I See Far" also and felt that it could be referring to the computer/internet, also. I have to agree with her. While I was typing up the post about the TV I was thinking about the internet. We have recently gone from a family who would basically check our email on a daily basis to a family with two blogs and two websites in progress. Other daughters have caught the blog craze and have their round of blogs that they like to read, too. Needless to say, the computer has become a major focal point in our household. Just like the TV, we have found that the internet can be a time stealer, an opportunity to be uncharitable to others in the household and a cause of frustration which leads to a short temper and crabiness (like when the internet connection won't work!). It is truly a daily struggle to keep this "beast" in its place.

God Bless!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Banana Bread

This is our favorite banana bread recipe. For the best flavor, use really ripe bananas and then let the baked bread sit over night before you eat it.

1 1/3 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 C oil
3/4 C sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mushed

Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl. Grease and flour a 9x5x3 bread pan.

Beat oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in mushed bananas. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture until mixed together and moist. Pour into pan.

Bake fro 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out and cool. Wrap and let sit overnight before slicing and eating.

Have a peaceful and restful Sunday. God Bless!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Feet

Well, Spring has finally sprung and around here that means happy feet! Kick off the socks and shoes and run free. Call us uncivilized hicks, we don't care. Yes, these fourteen bare feet are a product of my hatred of shoes and socks once the nice weather hits. I confine my feet to shoes and socks only out of necessity. As soon as moderately warm weather hits, you'll find us all running around feeling the grass between our toes.

I kind of liken bare feet to a feeling of freedom. Free feet remind me of the freedom we have to love God and the freedom that comes from knowing that we are a child of God; the freedoms we have in this country; the freedom to choose right from wrong; the freedom to choose and to spread joy. Socks and shoes, while a necessity in colder weather, remind me of confinement: the confinement that comes from sin and selfishness; the confinement of feeling that we can never change and that there is no hope.

I say, "Off with the shoes. Run free, feel the grass under your feet and the sun on your face; feel the love that God has for you and enjoy the warm weather (for as long as it decides to last)!"

God Bless!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

To TV or Not To TV - That is no longer the question!

This morning I got to thinking about our television. We have one in our family room, however it does not get any reception. This usually does not cause any grumbling except on days like today when my children wanted to watch the Papal Mass from Washington DC. At times like this, we have to call up Grandma and kindly ask if we can invade her house so that we can indulge ourselves in the program of the moment (like in a few weeks when the Kentucky Derby is run!). On our way home after the Mass this morning, I was thinking about how glad I am that we do not have any TV reception. Sure we miss out on some good educational programming once in a while, but I often think about what it would be like in our house if we had cable or a dish. Since our children are prone to argue over who gets what plastic cup, I can't even imagine the daily battles we would have over who gets to watch what TV program. I can envision that it would require some kind of "TV Show Picking Schedule" or something.

I also thought back to when we did have TV reception, which was about 12 years ago. I remember what it used to do to me. I became obsessed with quiet when my favorite show was on. What a pain it was to have to shush the small children for the 30 or 60 minutes of viewing, but they kept asking questions and I couldn't hear the show. I began then to realize that TV was becoming a bad thing in my life. Next, I noticed that my oldest daughter would become like a zombie whenever the TV was turned on. You could stand in front of her and talk all you wanted, but if the TV was on, she couldn't hear a word. That was the next sign that TV was becoming a bad thing in our lives. A while after that, I got a newsletter from the group Caritas in Alabama. It was entitled "I See Far" and discussed the evils of television and the effect it was having on us. While it might be viewed as being somewhat extreme in its message, it certainly got us thinking about the topic. A little while later, we decided we were being called to stop watching TV, or at least as much as we had been watching. It was then that our TV started revolting. We began to have this problem with it that whenever we did turn it on, we couldn't turn it off. We would hit the power button but we could still see and hear the picture. It was quite creepy. One time my parents, who were staying with us for the weekend, turned the TV on on Sunday morning to watch the news and we couldn't get it to shut off for anything! Even unplugging it didn't help. I finally sprinkled it with holy water and unplugged it again. That really convinced us that we needed to stop watching TV.

So, the next two houses we moved into, we never hooked up an antenna or cable. We tried the Sky Network dish for a while, but by then we were so used to not watching TV that it became a waste of money. We always seem so pressed for time, that I can't imagine how much more stuff wouldn't get done if the TV played a major role in our evenings. Without it, we are free to go outside, read, play and pray our rosary without worrying that we are going to miss something "important" on the TV. Sometimes God has to keep bombarding me with hints, but I'm glad now that we finally agreed to see things His way, even if it means that sometimes we have to put out more effort when there is something worthwhile to watch.

God Bless!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Current Read

The answer to yesterday's questions were: 1. Genesis - In the big inning. Get it? Thanks to Pa Ingalls and Little House on the Prairie for that one! 2. Ruthless (I actually thought that one was kind of cute!)

There are certain books in my "library" that I like to go back and read every year. It seems that I glean a new piece of information or two whenever I do that. It also helps to remind me of all of the things that I wanted to implement the first time I read it and have since then forgotten to implement. Three of those books are "A Mother's Rule of Life" by Holly Pierlot, "Created to Be His Helpmeet" by Debi Pearl and "Manager's Of Their Home" by Steve and Terri Maxwell. Each of these books have caused major turning points in my life in one way or another. Hopefully as I go through each of them again this year, I'll remember to share some of the things that I have found to be of value.

Last week, however, I uncovered a book that I probably should have been reading once a year. I am in the process of creating a catholic homeschooling website and I needed some information for one of my pages. I went to the bookshelf and pulled out "Catholic Home Schooling" by Mary Kay Clark. I began skimming through it to find the section I needed and found myself stopping to read other parts of it. This is the first book that I read once we decided that we were going to homeschool, but unfortunately, I haven't read it since. Even more unfortunate is the fact that, since I picked it up again last week, I haven't had a chance to read past the introduction. Hopefully soon I will get a chance to dive back into it because I have a feeling that it will remind me of a lot of things that I wanted to do but haven't done because I forgot I wanted to do them. I plan to share some of the wisdom I get from the book here and on my website. Stay Tuned...

God Bless!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Clear Case of Not Thinking Clearly

Yesterday was our monthly afternoon co-op so the older kids were preparing catechism questions that they would ask the younger kids. My girls decided that they would ask questions that were somewhat joke-like in nature. My one daughter thought she would try hers out on me, so she asked, "How many animals did Moses bring onto the ark?" To which I promptly and proudly replied, "None!" "You're right!" she responded, sounding slightly amazed. Just to show how smart I was, I added, "He didn't bring any on because they all walked onto the ark themselves!" At that point all of them burst into laughter. "Mom, I said how many animals did MOSES bring onto the ark?" Long pause from me...Oh, I get it, Moses didn't bring any, NOAH did. Oh well, I fell for it hook, line and sinker. So later they tried it out on their father, who of course answered correctly for the right reason. Kids, never wanting to pass up the opportunity to show how they pulled one over on mom, took advantage of the opportunity to tell them what my response was. So, in my defense, it had been a stressful morning and we were busily trying to get ready for co-op and..........

The other questions they came up with were:

Where was baseball mentioned in the Bible?

What kind of man was Boaz before he was married?

Answers tomorrow! God Bless!

Monday, April 14, 2008


I would like to put in a plug for Eucharistic Adoration. Our family has been part of weekly adoration for the past six years and I can't even begin to know the number of ways in which it has helped us, saved us, brought us back, snapped us out of it and filled us with the grace of God. I have often likened adoration to a drug. It seems that once you get a "taste" of it, you have to keep going back for more. If we happen to miss going one week, I definitely notice it.

My first experience with adoration was over 14 years ago when I didn't even know what it was. The parish we were attending was having 40-hours devotion and for some bizarre reason I signed up (I know now, divine inspiration!). Well, this was pre-conversion so I went to my hour thinking two things: 1. Aren't I a good Catholic to be doing something like this? and 2. What is it I am supposed to do here for one hour? So on my way in I stopped to look at some books that they had sitting out for people to use while they were in adoration. One book I picked up was an examination of conscience. A What? Oh well, I picked it up and went in and started reading it. Well, let's just say that by the time my hour was up, I certainly wasn't feeling quite so proud of myself. But more than that, I had a lot of questions. There were a lot of things in that book that I didn't agree with. Why were they asking me about things like contraception and other denominations? Weren't all those okay?

Well, God is good. What He started in Adoration, He followed up on in a relatively short period of time. I went out shopping with a long time friend of mine that was "Very Catholic" so I started asking her all these questions. She very graciously answered them all. Not that I believed she was right, of course, but at least what she said sounded like it had some merit. It was on the way home that night, in the car by myself, on the highway with the song, "I Can See Clearly Now the Rain Has Gone" playing that the Holy Spirit made a visit and in one fell swoop wiped away all of my misconceptions and errors in judgement about the faith. I got home, walked in the door and started sobbing. Of course my husband had no idea what was going on, he thought something terrible had happened. Through tears of joy I was able to relate to him all that had happened and, thanks be to God, our lives have never been the same.

So, if you've never been to adoration, find the nearest church that is offering it and go. Don't worry about what to do, just let God show you. You might be surprised at what He will show you, but I think that once you go, you'll be hooked. I believe that Eucharistic Adoration is one of the main reasons why I can continue to do all that I do AND maintain some semblance of sanity.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lemon Oat Bars

We just tried this recipe this past week and it was GOOD! The recipe shown here has been doubled to fit a 9x13 pan.

3 c flour
2 c old-fashioned oats
2 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/3 c cold butter
2 cans (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 c lemon juice
3 tsp grated lemon peel

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon; cut in the butter until crumbly. Press 6 cups of mixture into a greased 9x13 pan; set remaining oat mixture aside. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the milk, lemon juice and lemon peel. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until edges are brown. Cool on a wire rack and then cut.

Have a restful and Holy Sunday. God Bless!

Friday, April 11, 2008

IL Catholic Homeschooling Conference

Every year about this time I find myself in an interesting state of mind. Part of me is excited that Spring is here (even though you wouldn't know it by the weather) and that means that the end of the school year is rapidly approaching. At the same time, the other part of me is thinking ahead to the next school year and trying to plan what we want to study and what we will need to study it. Why is that? If I am getting excited about subjects for next year, why can't I be excited about subjects that we still have to finish up? Every year I find myself suffering from an extreme case of spring fever and anticipating that long awaited summer break. I have never been one to formally homeschool all year long. I just can't seem to keep my motivation up that long. I'm sure the kids would probably do better and retain more if we worked through the summer, but I fear it is a lost cause for all of us because I am certain that I have infected them with my "summer off" mentality. Last summer I really did try to follow through on some basic subjects throughout the summer. The only one we kept up with was math for my oldest because she was the one who was motivated.

Part of the reason why I start planning so soon for next year is that there is usually a homeschool conference coming up that I want to attend, so I like to buy as much as I can when I go. This year the homeschool conference is in Joliet, IL and I am a small part of the planning committee. Last year, we went to Milwaukee, WI for the conference. It was a nice time and they put on a great conference. Really, I look at these conferences as kind of a mom's retreat. A nice way to spend some time with other homeschooling mom's planning, praying and getting that much needed boost. The only drawback to being involved in planning and working a conference is that you don't get to listen to as many speakers or spend as much time in the vendor hall. This just means that I have to be extra ready so that I can use what little time I have effectively.

So here is my plug for the upcoming Illinois Catholic Homeschool Conference to be held at the University of St. Francis, Joliet, IL. It will be held May 23 and 24, 2008. If you've never been to a conference before and live within a few hours of Joliet, I would encourage you to come and join us. Friday evening there will be two keynote speakers: Ginny Seuffert and Monsignor Dan Deutsch. If you've never heard either of them, they are both great speakers. There will also be a dance performance by the Little Flowers Catholic Dance and Theatre Troupe. Fr. Pablo Straub will be the Mass celebrant and homilist at the Saturday morning mass. Fr. Rocky Hoffman will be the keynote for Saturday. There will be a lot of other great workshops and a hall full of vendors. If you are interested in attending, just go to the ILCHC website and download the registration form. Send it in ahead of time to save some money!

If you don't live near Joliet, I would encourage you to take part in a homeschool conference in your area. Even if you are only thinking about homeschooling, it is a great way to check it out, get a lot of information and have some time to ponder the many aspects of homeschooling.

God Bless!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I'll Do It God's Way

Monday morning the latest copy of the "Magnificat" showed up on my desk, a sign from my husband that there was something of interest for me. I read the meditation and realized that it fit rather nicely with the topic of yesterday's post: trusting that God's way is the better way. The entry was written by St. John Baptist De La Salle, whose feast day was Monday. I would like to quote part of it because he says it all so much better than I ever could.

"Offering ourselves and all we have to God means to present ourselves to him and to dedicate to him all our thoughts, words, actions, and goods, whether spiritual or temporal - in a word, everything we possess in this world. We assure God that because we are wholly dependent on him, we also wish to consecrate ourselves to him and his service and to abandon ourselves entirely to what he may choose for us, not wishing to follow our own will. We beg him not to permit us to entertain a single thought, utter a single word, or accomplish the slightest action that is not in conformity with his holy will and with what he asks of us."

It is hard to open ourselves so completely to God in order to live what St. John Baptist describes here. What a catch-22: You need God's grace to open yourself up to His will but you also need to be open to God's will in order to more easily accept the grace! St. John Baptist finishes the entry with this:

"We should also remind God of all the graces we have received from Him and tell Him that far from abusing any of them, we wish to act in such a way that none of them may prove useless but that all may attain their full effect. Finally, we should offer to consecrate to God in particular all the natural advantages and temporal goods we may possess, declaring that just as we have received them all from God, we wish to make use of them only for His sake."

May we remember each and every day that, without God, we can do nothing but with God, we can do anything!

God Bless!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

An Important Lesson

Yesterday's post reminded me of a very important lesson that took me a while to learn. When talking about the plans for your life, whether you are talking directly to God or to someone else, never say NEVER. I mentioned yesterday that I had slammed my fist down and said, "I will never have seven kids!" Well,that was the first in a long line of times that God made me eat my words. Not just in small ways, but in big ways.

The next time I can recall was when a good friend of mine told me that she was going to homeschool her five year old daughter. As far as I was concerned
, that was weird. I would never even consider homeschooling my children. At the time I was back in school getting my teaching degree and had two small children. I will never forget what my friend said to me, "Why do you want to leave your own children to go off and teach someone else's children?" "Well," I responded, "I will be a much happier mother at home if I am fulfilled in my work!" Well, you know the rest of the story because the title of my blog gives it away.

The first year of homeschooling, we moved to a new area and found what was to become for us a wonderful homeschool group. We went to a few events and got to know a couple of families. One day, a friend called and told me that she had just had her baby. Their first boy after three girls. He was born at home with just her husband to help her as the doctor had not made it to the house in time. She went on to tell me what a beautiful experience it was. Wow, that was TOO much. I would never have any of my children at home. How safe is that??? Well, a few years passed and I got pregnant again, woke up one day and said to my husband, "I think we should have this baby at home." He said okay and we ended up having the next four babies at home. I have to say that most of them were very beautiful experiences!

From the very start of our marriage, my husband had been trying to talk me into moving out into the country. "Wouldn't it be great to live in the wide open spaces?" he used to ask me. "Absolutely not!" I would respond. "Who would want to live out in the middle of nowhere? I would never move to the country!" Fortunately for me, he is a very patient man. Fortunately for him, one day I woke up and said, "I think we need to move to the country where we can be out in the wide open spaces!" It was a horrible road getting here, but we have had almost five wonderful years in the country.

So, what have I learned? I have certainly learned to watch what I say. If I slip and say NEVER, I hurry up and apologize to God and tell Him I didn't really mean it. I have realized that had we not been open to God's grace in my life, what a different life we would have had. I have to believe that it certainly would not have been as wonderful as it has been. It took me many years to learn this lesson in the big things in my life. Now that I have learned it in the big ways, God is teaching me how to live it in the small ways in my life. I hope it doesn't take me as long to learn, because sometimes the lessons are quite painful!

God Bless!

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Momentous Occasion

Today marks a milestone in this household: Our baby boy turns 3 years old today.
That, in and of itself, is not a milestone; we've had 6 others do it before him. What makes it momentous is that there is no other new baby here to help him celebrate. This is the first time in the almost 20 year history of our family that we have had a child turn 3 without a younger sibling around. One of my relatives asked me yesterday how I felt about that. Well, I have to say that I am okay with it, however I did stop and reflect for a while about the whole trusting-your-family-size-to-God thing. I have to say that I would be much more enthusiastic about adopting another child than I would be about birthing another baby. This little boy took a toll on his mommy! He was 11 lbs. 10 oz when he was born and his pregnancy overall was the most detrimental one to my body. The thought of going through something like that again makes me shiver. When I look at him, though, I thank God for the miracle that He created and the wonderful boy that He has given to our family.
My husband and I both have a lot of "7"s in our lives. We both were born on the 7th, we were engaged on the 7th and married on the 7th. Before we were married, one of my in-laws was joking around that maybe we would even have 7 kids. I emphatically pounded my fist on the table and said, "I will never have 7 kids". Today, I am eternally grateful that God knows a lot better than I do what I need, and that He gave me the grace to open my heart to follow His plan and not my own. No matter how afraid I might be, I have to trust that if He wills us to have more children, whether naturally or through adoption, it will be the best thing for all of us!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Beer - Braised Beef

Today's recipe comes from "Simple and Delicious" magazine. We really like it and it is very easy. This is a crock pot recipe, so plan ahead.

3 bacon strips, diced
2 pounds beef stew meat cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion cut into wedges
1 tsp minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 can (12 oz) beer
1 tbls soy sauce
1 tbls worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbls flour
1/4 c water
Hot cooked noodles

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels; drain, discarding drippings. Sprinkle beef with pepper and salt. In the same skillet brown beef in oil. Transfer to a 5qt slow cooker.

Add the bacon, onion, garlic and bay leaf. In a small bowl, combine the beer, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce and thyme. Pour over the beef mixture. Cover and cook on low for 5 1/2 to 6 hours or until the meat is tender.

In a small bowl, combine flour and water until smooth. Gradually stir into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until thickened. Discard bay leaf. Serve beef over noodles. Yield 8 servings.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Daily Mass? ?? Yes, Daily Mass

I will be honest. Those two words have been known to strike fear in my heart. That might sound odd, but I'm sure that any mother with one or more small children can relate. Daily Mass is another thing that I struggle with for a variety of reasons. The first is the distance we have to drive just to get there. We are about 25 minutes from seven Catholic churches, but nothing is closer. The times range from 7:00 am to 8:30 am. Not bad, but factor in the 1/2 hour drive there and back and now Mass becomes an event. The 7:00 mass comes in handy when my husband and I can go by ourselves, but our children aren't that great at getting up at 6:15 to throw their clothes on and jump in the car. The one benefit to Mass that early is that most of them are still somewhat comatose, so by the time Mass is over, they are just starting to wake up and get lively.

The other reason I struggle with daily Mass is the number and ages of my children. You never know just who it is who is going to be the culprit of the day. It can be anyone from the nine year old on down. The worst is when they decide to gang up on me and all act up. For example, we got to Mass this morning (late, of course) and the only pew we would reasonably fit in was up in front. So we file in (all eight of us) and stand for the Gospel. At this point, my four year old informs me she must go to the bathroom. The nine year old agrees to take her, so they climb out of the pew and go to the back of the church. Within a few minutes, the nine year old is coming back to tell me that I am needed. Of course I cannot go back by myself or I would hear the almost three year old yelling the entire time, "I want to go by Mommy" so I figure it is best to take him with me. So the two of us climb out of the pew and go to the back of the church. We take care of business and the three of us come back to the pew. To save more climbing, we sit on the end. My nine year old informs me that she still has to go to the bathroom so she goes to the back of the church and eventually comes back. Now, because I am sitting at the opposite end of the pew from where I started, my seven year old feels the need to crawl along the pew to get down by me. By this time it is time for the consecration and I have to remind myself where I am and what on earth I am here for. I'm certain I didn't drive all this way just to use the bathroom!! I can be thankful that today we made it through the consecration and communion without incident. Many times I feel that I go to Mass just for my daily dose of humiliation. It is a good way to keep my pride in check :)

This was by no means my worst experience at church; there have been times where I am holding back the tears on my way up to communion. I have heard other horror stories from friends, too. So, I often wonder, is going through all of that really worth anything. I know I have read and heard before how important it is to be recollected on your way to receive Jesus and how we should spend those moments after communion, when Jesus is residing in us, in quiet prayer. Hey, I'm grateful when we get up to communion without anyone pushing or punching a sibling, or almost knocking an elderly person over on their way back to the pew to get the end seat. I try really hard to take that split second before I receive the Eucharist to remind myself what is about to happen before I have to turn the radar back on.

I guess I am very grateful that we have a merciful and loving God. My only hope is that He understands that I am really trying to pay attention and stay recollected during Mass. People have told me that getting to Mass every day is the best thing you can possibly do. I once talked to a priest who told me that of course we should be getting to daily Mass. Since we homeschool and I set the schedule then we should use that driving time to do schoolwork, say our daily prayers, read about the saints, etc. Well, we try, but some days I just don't have it in me! We have a Lutheran church about 1 mile from us, so we and our homeschooling neighbors keep praying they'll all convert to the Catholic faith and then we'd have a church right in our backyard! I do know that, despite all of the work and frustration, the grace we receive from attending Daily Mass is what makes it possible to keep on doing all that we do. I also read somewhere that when you go to Mass and have an experience like I did today, it is your gift to God, but when you go to Mass and walk out in peace, it is God's gift to you.

God Bless!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Trying to do God's Will - and getting blocked

I've talked before about wanting to always do God's will in my life and about how it is hard to figure out what God's will is sometimes. There are other times, however, when I feel pretty sure I know what His will is, but when I try to do it, I get blocked. At that point I always find myself in a dilemma. Was this really what God wanted me to do and the evil one is trying to block it, or was this really not what I was supposed to do and God is trying to block it. How do you tell the difference? There are times I can stop and pray about it and feel pretty sure that I was wrong and it was God trying to stop me. Other times I can feel this strong urge to forge ahead and plow through the obstacles. Yet there are still other times that just leave me stumped.

Take this example: Last Friday I had an inspiration for a post. When I had about half an hour to enter it, I sat down at the computer. I was going to write about things in our lives that we feel we need to get rid of. Of course, we aren't positive about all of them, but based on prayer, we feel that we should at least try to rid ourselves of them. I was going to tell you all about a nice 23 year old (lame) horse that we have that we need to find a good retirement home for. He's even free!! Then I was going to mention about some heavy equipment my husband has that he needs to sell because of the severe down-turn in the housing market. I was going to list them all: a six-wheel dump truck, a New Holland 160 excavator, an F800 tool truck, a 25 ton trailer and a TL-150 track loader. Then the last thing I was going to write about was our house - a 4 bedroom ranch on 5 acres in the heart of the midwest, just in case someone out there wants to move out to the country. I was even going to tell people that if they were interested in more info on any of these things, all they would have to do is send me a comment. I get to see them before I post them, so I was going to let people know that I would not post any inquiries. It was in the middle of writing all of this when- POOF - the power went out. Well, I sat there a moment and wondered, was I supposed to do this or not? Was God trying to stop my from selling things I shouldn't or was satan trying to stop me from selling things I should? I'm still not sure. I just thought I'd throw this example out there in case anyone else had any thoughts:)

God Bless!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More on Suffering

Let's get back to that topic of suffering, shall we? My husband discovered a book entitled "Benedictus - Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI", put out by Ignatius Press and Magnificat. He reads each day's meditation when he gets up in the morning and I know that if it is sitting on my desk in the kitchen when I get up that I, too, should read it. One day last week there was an entry on the value of suffering. This one was actually easy to understand, it wasn't too lofty or written with too much of the "Pope speak" that I cannot usually understand. In it the Pope tells us that pain is a part of being human and that if we want to get rid of suffering, we must get rid of love since there can't be love without suffering. If you haven't guessed, I have a hard time seeing suffering for the blessing it really is. I don't think I am alone, as I can't really say that I have met anyone who seems to joyfully embrace suffering. The one person I can think of who came close was my grandmother, who had a plethora of health problems all her life, but never complained about any of them. Her response to "How are you, Grandma?" was always, "I can't complain." I obviously did not get that gene!

Since the Pope can speak much more eloquently than I can, I would like to quote the last half of his meditation on this topic, as it is full of wisdom.

"...Suffering is the process through which we mature. Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish...If we say that suffering is the inner side of love, we then also understand why it is so important to learn how to suffer - and why, conversely, the avoidance of suffering renders someone unfit to cope with life. He would be left with an existential emptiness, which could then only be combined with bitterness, with rejection, and no longer with any inner acceptance or progress toward maturity."

Now there is something to think about. How blessed we are to have a Church that can see the value of suffering.

God Bless!